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Audit hints at graft in some areas
By Cui Xiaohuo (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-02-20 07:38

About 500 of the more than 34,000 officials whose accounts were audited last year were suspected to be corrupt and referred to prosecution agencies for further investigation.

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Auditor-General Liu Jiayi said yesterday that the numbers were roughly the same as in the last two years.

Among the accounts audited were those of four provincial or ministerial-level officials and heads of 12 State-owned enterprises, the National Audit Office (NAO) said. But it did not say what the results of the audits were.

About 80,000 auditors audited the accounts of more than 120,000 projects and units across the country last year, helping save 86 billion yuan ($12.6 billion) of government funds.

And though about 6 billion yuan of government money was misused in 2008, NAO did not detect corruption in the use of funds for the economic stimulus package. The government announced a $586-billion stimulus package on November 9 to boost domestic demand in order to cushion the impact of the global financial crisis on China's economy.

The financial crisis has already hurt China's economy, with the GDP growth slowing to 6.8 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, the lowest in seven years.

The slowdown could make officials fudge accounts or misuse government funds to suit the demand of projects and/or gain the favor of their seniors. That's why auditors have been extra cautious this year and vowed to announce extravagance, big losses and waste in stimulus package spending, apart from the usual violations and crimes, Liu said.

Liu assumed the auditor-general's office last year and promised to minutely scrutinize expenditure on major infrastructure projects, especially those undertaken to rebuild facilities in the quake-hit areas.

Liu said NAO would focus on local governments that violate rules while implementing the central government's policies to maintaineconomic growth.

The audit office will also study closely newly approved projects that could have high greenhouse gas emission levels. Possible violation of regulations on land use, taxation and other financial policies will be part of the scrutiny.

Auditing of the Beijing Olympic Games' accounts will begin soon, he said. Last month, other NAO officials told China Daily that the audit results would be made public in the first half of this year.